School goes ‘mobile’ in Bengal village after online classes fail

At a time when online classes have become the new normal across the country, teachers of a primary school in a remote part in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district are visiting neighbourhoods to impart lessons.

After the Covid-19 pandemic forced the government to stop classes in schools and colleges four months ago, Andiran Primary School (APS) in the district’s Beldanga area followed other institutions and started online classes but soon found that the parents of only 15 of the school’s 162 students have smartphones.

To ensure that the children are not affected, the teachers came up with an idea. They started holding classes in open courtyards in different parts of the area for small groups of students.

The headmaster of APS, Biswajit Dutta, said, “Parents of most our students are very poor. They cannot afford smartphones or

mobile internet connectivity. We are having a mobile school instead. Classes are being held in Purbapara, Daspara, Sasthitala and other areas twice or thrice a week.”

The teachers are holding classes at eight locations. Classes are held between 9 am and 2 pm.

“We are taking all measures to maintain physical distance during the classes. No more than 25 students are allowed at a time and use of sanitizers is a must,” said Dutta.

Local residents, such as Anima Pramanik, Harihar Mondal and Nitai Das, are helping the project. While some people have allowed big courtyards to be used, others have provided chairs and tables.

Teachers of some other schools have also joined the project to boost the new model.

Mrinmoy Pramanik, a teacher of Mathpara Primary School, Sumanta Chakraborty, a teacher of Kajishah Sudarsanchakra Primary School and some other teachers are also holding classes.

Prakash Mondal, a parent, said, “We thought our children would get no education this year. We are thankful to the APS teachers and the others.”

Rudra Mondal, a class 3 student, said, “The teachers always remind us about the safety factors. This too is part of the lessons.”

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